Wednesday, January 23, 2008

On the Death of Celebrities

You know those montages they show at the Academy Awards of the people who died the previous year?

My first memory of the montage was a very removed memory. I don't know that I recognized a single person in the film footage and the majority of people were old, many "behind the scenes" people, from movies I have never seen.

As I've become more aware of film, seen more "old movies," and kept up with the media world, not only do I recognize more names, faces, and films, but I also can recall those people dying through out the year.

(Mercurie's blog does an excellent job often composes post on those who have died through out the year.)

I've often thought about how weird it'll be to see the Academy montage with Tom Hanks in it, Will Smith, or Julie Roberts if I am blessed to outlive them. Sometimes when celebrities die, even though we don't know them, we have formed a unique intimacy with them over time. Even though they wouldn't miss you if you died, you certainly miss them, are shocked that death would take them, or intrigued at how these people and the people around them are effected by death.

When I found out Heath Ledger died yesterday, I didn't believe it. I wanted to verify it with real news stories which were beginning to flood over the Internet. In a way it paralyzed me at first. Ledger was young, born in 1979! He had one of his biggest roles wrapped up in Batman: The Dark Knight. I was excited for Leger's performance as soon as it was announced, and now it's a bitter thought.

I think about when Brad Delp committed suicide last year and said "I am a lonely soul" in his short suicide note. I think of the messages of Oliver Stone's film I recently wrote on, and sometimes what we want the most is what destroys us.

I wish people would search for faith. I wish people would search for hope. I wish people would search for love. And when they search, I want them to find. That they may find faith, hope, and love.

Whether it's the montages of celebrities, or the obituaries in the paper, I wish the names and faces would bring feeling of sorrow and loss of those who died of natural causes, rather than taken out of this world prematurely. Especially those feeling that the need to remove themselves from this world.

Heath, I don't know what to say about your death, other than I hope those you left behind will find what you did not.

8 comments:

Nate Watson said...

wow, great post. Even though I am not much of a movie buff, I was saddened to hear this unfortunate news...probably because of the nature of his death, and thought, like you in your final paragraph, that something was missing from his life. I feel so bad for his kids.

Mercurie said...

Great post. And thank you very much for the compliment. At any rate, while I was shocked and saddened by Ledger's death, I must actually say that I felt more sorrow over the death of Suzanne Pleshette. I think it comes down to the unique initmacy we have with them. Having watched Pleshette all those years (and having a big crush on her), her death had a big impact on me.

Michael Parsons said...

What is even more saddening is that his family and those close to him will not be able to grieve in private. Something we take for granted.
Such a tragic accident

The Cubicle Reverend said...

Over at looking closer he mentions how some baptist wacko is going to be picketting his funeral because he played gay characters.

superdave524 said...

I never got the flood of sadness that followed Princess Di's death, but I felt a personal loss when the illustrator for Monty Python died quite a few years ago. Strange how much these folks- folks who have never, will never- know we exist can mean to us. I reckon its like a little of the mortor that connects us to each other crumbled away.

Michael said...

He had talent and was a young actor who was really dedicated to his craft. I've been reading that his strong dedication to the role of the Joker may have been a cause of his death (the very dark, intense role leading to his insomnia, leading to his probably accidental overdose of sleep medication)...

I don't know why celebrities' deaths arouse more feelings and emotions than "regular," "common" deaths in the newspaper obituaries, or even among one's acquaintances. And I think what you say about the connections we form to a few of them through their work is totally right. Maybe it is the sort of communal grievance (or at least "awareness") of death that we feel together because of the visibility of celebrities.

I'm not a big movie person nor am I "in-the-know" about celebrities at all. But for some reason, I was drawn to Ledger's death. Maybe it's because of how unexpected, premature, and "non-celebrity" it was...i don't know...He was dealing with all of these stresses and it just sort of overwhelmed him...and it seems he died while simply trying to get through it.

Art said...

Sad about Ledger. I hope that some may learn something from his passing...

Anonymous said...

For me, he has one of the best actors of his generation, beside Gosling and Bale... maybe he was awful movies but never awful perfomrances... sexy voice, fantastic presence on screen and talented. For the people who knew him, he was a intelligent person, beloved friend, unconditional father for his little daughter, "down feet on earth", with a clean and safe career.

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